Goal setting is not a new concept. Many successful people, including real estate agents, attribute their success to their ability to set and accomplish their goals. But if it were really that simple, every real estate agent would be experiencing a high level of success in their businesses.
What prevents real estate agents from accomplishing their goals? Why are many frustrated and seemingly stuck while others do amazingly well?
SMART real estate goals
You’ve probably heard of the acronym “SMART” when it comes to setting and accomplishing goals. We’ll look at each component of this acronym and we’re going to take it a bit further. Within each component, we’re going to give you an exact method to help you define a goal that you can accomplish that will help your real estate business.
The “S” in SMART goals stands for specific. When your goal is specifically defined, it will be much easier to accomplish. Instead of being vague about your goals, be very specific and focused about it.
Robert Brault says: “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” Obstacles aren’t the ones hindering your goals. It might be that a lesser goal has a clearer path than a higher more meaningful goal. You overcome this by being very specific and have laser focus on the goal you want to reach. Otherwise, something ‘easier to do’ with a path of least resistance will become the goal you settle with accomplishing.
How do you define a specific goal?
Simple. By being exact, and not vague. A vague real estate goal is “I want to sell more houses this year” or “I want to make six figures in commissions this year.” Sure, both are lofty goals. But what do they mean? And how do you get there? When you say you want to sell more, or make more, there is no specific target. And when there’s no specific target, it’s tough to define the action plans necessary to reach your goal.
You can be more specific by saying: “My goal is to close 12 transactions this year with a gross commission income of at least $10,000 each.” In this example, you have set a specific number of transactions you want to complete. We’ll get to the other components of the goal later on, but the important thing to remember is you have to be specific.
To expand upon this point, once you are specific about a goal, you realize that you have to set action plans in order to achieve that goal. If you want to close 12 transactions, you must now set an action plan that entails prospecting and marketing activities so you can get those 12 closed transactions.
Each action plan you set is also a goal, and being specific allows you to drill down to the very specific goal you need to accomplish in order to achieve your ultimate goal. That’s how goal setting works. You literally have to dig down deeper to the ultimate action you need to do in order to achieve your goal.
Do this: Write down a goal that is specific.
The key concept behind a goal that is measurable is progress. You have to be able to measure the progress of your goal as you accomplish it. A specific goal can be measured in terms of actions (what you need to do) and results (what happens when you do it).
To become more effective at goal setting, set measurable goals. Know what you will see as progress to give you an indication of how well you are accomplishing your goal. Just as it is easier to set a vague goal with no specific attribute to it, some real estate agents set goals but can not properly define how they will measure their progress.
When you set an income goal, it is easy to measure your progress because you know what you earn at any given time period. But when you set a goal, such as “I want to make more money” or “I want to have more clients,” both are neither specific and do not have a measure of progress directly attached to them.
You may argue that setting a goal to have “more” is, in itself, a way to measure progress. But I disagree. When you want more of something, how do you know when you are ultimately reaching the goal you want to achieve? And how do you know if what you are doing is effective enough, or if there is a more efficient way of accomplishing the goal?
Identify what progress you will see as you achieve your goal and set these as benchmarks to measure how well you are accomplishing your goals. If you have a goal to grow your client list and help more buyers and sellers this year, be specific. Make your goal to meet and add 10 new contacts to your client database every week. Track how well you are accomplishing your goal by comparing your actual results to the goal you’ve defined.
By tracking the progress of your goal, you’ll identify where you may need to improve, discover what action tasks you might have to explore, and have a better understanding at how effective you are at accomplishing your goals.
Do this: Write down the ways you can track your progress to accomplishing your goal.
Some define the “A” in SMART as attainable or achievable, but for our purposes, we’re going to define it as actionable. When you couple it with being able to measure progress (as we discussed in the previous section), you’ll be able to set more achievable goals.
Ask yourself two questions in order to define a proper, action-oriented goal. What needs to be done? And what is the most important?
What needs to be done? Make a list of all the things that need to be done to accomplish the goal. Be specific and focused. Make sure you identify every conceivable task to make progress towards the goal more achievable.
What is the most important? Now that you have a list of everything that needs to be done, identify the most important task at hand. Work at completing that, then go onto the next most important task.
A lot of real estate agents think they can multitask, and that results in a lack of focus. It’s easy to get distracted from completing the tasks to make progress on your goals when so many things are happening all at once. When you lack focus, your progress suffers as tasks go uncompleted. Practice doing one thing at a time until you finish it, before moving onto the next.
Have a look at your goal. As specific as it is, list everything you need to do to accomplish it. Then identify the most important. Set that as your task. Keep repeating this progress until you see yourself getting closer to achieving your goals. Being able to break down your goal into actionable components will help you inch closer and closer to achieving the end result you desire.
Do this: Identify every action you need to take in order to accomplish the goal you set above.
A lot of real estate agents have lofty goals and high hopes and dreams. While not necessarily a bad thing, one thing preventing you from accomplishing your goals is that they may not be realistic. Nobody can set a limit on what you can achieve. But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense to say: “I want to earn $1 million in gross commissions next year” when last year you didn’t even earn $100,000.
Be realistic. Yes, you can set a limit a bit higher than what you think you can achieve, but set a goal you know you have a chance of accomplishing. Otherwise, you’ll never achieve any of your goals and you’ll become less motivated about goal setting.
If you earned $50,000 in gross commissions this year, your goal next year might be $80,000. That’s a 60% increase, and if you accomplish that goal, that would be a great achievement. This is quite doable.
Look at your previous performance and see if there is a progression. Each year, you should raise the bar and accomplish a higher goal than something you’ve already achieved. When you do this, you’ll feel the momentum and results of accomplishing your goals. You’ll also grow with each new goal you set which is higher above your previous performance.
How do you determine if a goal is realistic? It has to meet two criteria. First, it has to be a goal you are willing to work towards. Secondly, you have to be able to work towards the goal. Willing and able are the two key concepts here. You must have willingness and the ability to accomplish your goal in order for it to be realistic.
To set a realistic goal, be truthful to yourself. Don’t be lofty. Don’t fantasize about what you want to accomplish. Be realistic. Make your goals something you are willing to work towards, and have the ability to achieve.
Do this: Look at the actions you need to accomplish to reach your goal. Are you willing and able to do them? If not, redefine your goal until it is something you can realistically achieve.
Your goals should be time-based. Set a deadline. If your goal is an annual income goal, the deadline is one year. But to help you have better chances of achieving that goal, break it down into several time periods. Perhaps you want to see how you’re doing on a quarterly basis, or even a monthly basis. It’s much easier to gauge your performance if you set a time period for your goals.
Let’s say your goal is to earn $120,000. If you break it down into quarters, you’d need to close $30,000 in gross commissions in each quarter of the year. If you break the time period down into months, you’ll have to close $10,000 each month.
When you set your goal, specify a time period that you want to accomplish it in. Remember how we set a measurable component to our goals, and identified the actions we need to do? Set a time limit for every action that has to be completed to achieve your goal.
Do this: Set a time period for your goal and for each and every actionable task you need to accomplish.
What to do with what you know
Now that you have five exact ways to help you accomplish your real estate goals, you need to get started. As Mark Twain said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
A lot of real estate agents wait for the perfect conditions to surface before they start working towards their goal. This is a totally wrong approach. There is no perfect opportunity other than right now. Yes, you will encounter setbacks, mistakes and challenges. That’s part of working towards something meaningful. Start today and see how many of your goals you’ll be able to accomplish as opposed to what you’ve done so far by waiting for something ‘magical’ to happen.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this quote from F. M. Alexander, who said: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” Goal setting is a habit. It requires you to change your mindset and adapt goal setting as a skill you practice regularly so that you can start to become successful.
If you look back at what you’ve done so far to reach this point, you’ll see where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve failed. You’ll also discover that it’s your habits that have brought you to where you are now. Both good and bad. My advice? Start practicing good habits. And start with SMART goal setting as one of them.